Hulu, Netflix and the BBC pull content with blackface, WestJet and Universal Orlando announce layoffs, and Caesars offers cash to wear face masks

Also: How not to respond to a rejected media request, Facebook Live viewership increased 50% since January, adopting social justice initiatives, and more.

Hello, communicators:

Natalie E. Dean, assistant professor of biostatistics at the University of Florida, shared a response she received from a journalist after turning down a media request:

The tweet—which has racked up more than 4,600 retweets and 30,400 “likes” at time of publishing—spurred a debate about professionalism as well as subject matter experts. Though the reporter called Dean’s response “curt,” advising your organization’s experts to refer media relations requests to you and your team is a best practice for several reasons.

First, sending media relations requests directly to an organization’s media relations team can ensure requests don’t fall through the cracks, but instead are answered (either with a polite decline or an introduction to the proper expert). PR pros should also channel media requests so as not to overwhelm any one expert within their organization (as seen in Dean’s tweet). This becomes especially important during crises including COVID-19.

It’s also important for communicators to field these requests to ensure that they’re met and the expert’s answers fit with the organization’s voice. If the article in question misquotes the expert or contains any misinformation, PR pros can then work with the reporter on correcting the information.

How do you handle snide remarks or unrealistic expectations from reporters? Share your thoughts under the hashtag #DailyScoop.

Here are today’s top stories:

Networks pull shows and episodes with blackface characters

Hulu and Amazon Prime have removed episodes of “30 Rock” that feature white actors and actresses in blackface, following creator Tina Fey’s request.

CNN Entertainment reported:

“As we strive to do the work and do better in regards to race in America, we believe that these episodes featuring actors in race-changing makeup are best taken out of circulation,” [Fey said.] “I understand now that intent is not a free pass for White people to use these images.”

The episodes set to be pulled include Season 3, Episode 2; Season 5, Episode 4; Season 5, Episode 10 and Season 6, Episode 19, according to NBCUniversal. Two of them feature Jane Krakowski, who is white, in blackface, and Jon Hamm appears in blackface in another, Vulture reported. Some of them have been pulled from Hulu and Amazon, and some of the episodes are still available for purchase on YouTube.

Netflix and the BBC have removed UK-based comedy show “Little Britain” for similar reasons, with Netflix also pulling “The Mighty Boosh” and “The League of Gentlemen” from its service because it featured characters in blackface.

Hollywood Reporter wrote:

Netflix confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that [“Little Britain”] — which first aired in 2003 on BBC Three — had been removed from the platform on Friday alongside Come Fly With Me, the comedy follow-up from Lucas and Walliams (and one also featuring characters using blackface).

“There’s a lot of historical programming available on BBC iPlayer, which we regularly review,” added a spokesperson for the BBC. “Times have changed since Little Britain first aired, so it is not currently available on BBC iPlayer.”

Hulu has also removed three episodes of “Scrubs” that contained characters in blackface.

Why it matters: Though critics have complained that the moves are “arbitrary” and don’t serve to stop systemic racism, organizations across industries are reevaluating their content, campaigns, and workforce makeup to identify changes that must be made. Doing so is a reputation-management must.

Individuals in the entertainment industry are also reacting. Comedian and late-night host Jimmy Kimmel apologized for a blackface skit and actress and comedian Jenny Slate resigned from Netflix’s “Big Mouth,” stating that “Black characters on an animated show should be played by Black people.” Combined with the moves from networks and streaming services, the decisions can pave the way to make opportunities for Black creatives, as well as increase inclusivity overall.


TACTICALLY SPEAKING

As Las Vegas casinos and resorts re-open, many are requiring both employees and guests to wear masks, including MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment (which owns Caesars Palace, Paris Las Vegas, Bally’s Las Vegas, Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino and more).

The requirement has been shared in both newsroom statements and on social media:

However, Caesars Entertainment took a different tack to persuade visitors to wear masks: The company’s resorts and casinos offered $20 in casino credit to those following the rules.

Along with listing the rules and requirements for employees and visitors, communicators should work on ways to share what they’re doing to increase people’s safety and brainstorm efforts to get consumers involved. This includes creating visuals of your cleaning and safety procedures as well as written plans, and offering incentives for wearing masks and social distancing.


MEASURED THOUGHTS

SkillzMe created an infographic showing how the COVID-19 crisis has affected industries’ bottom lines, related through changes in website traffic and searches:

Image courtesy of SkillzMe.

Along with search and website traffic shifts, consumers have also been viewing more digital content, with Facebook Live viewing increasing by 50% since January. This represents several opportunities for PR and marketing pros who can cater to changing consumer behaviors by addressing questions and concerns through digital and social media content.

You can view the entire infographic here. 


CRISIS LEADERSHIP BOARD

Looking for more insight on how to address the current global crisis and lead your organization into a strong recovery?

Join Ragan’s Crisis Leadership Board to network and brainstorm with peers, get the latest intelligence and research, and start to strategize for the future of your organization.

Learn more about this exclusive membership here.

Intuit, WestJet and Universal Orlando Resort announce layoffs

Intuit’s chief executive, Sasan Goodarzi, announced in an employee memo that it’s cutting 715 jobs as it restructures its business model for the future.

Goodarzi wrote:

As CEO, it’s my responsibility to ensure we make decisions that set Intuit up for success, not just for today but for the future. Sometimes the necessary decisions are the most difficult ones, and this is certainly one of those times.

Today, we’re announcing a series of changes across the company that will accelerate our transformation and increase our velocity by re-balancing our investments. Regrettably, these changes will impact 715 of our friends and co-workers. Departures are never easy, and those leaving have done great work for Intuit and I am deeply grateful for their service and contributions.

Canadian airline WestJet is also laying off 3,333 of its employees:

Weeks after re-opening, Universal Orlando Resort has also laid off an undisclosed number of its workforce.

Orlando Sentinel reported:

“We have made the difficult decision to reduce our parks and resorts workforce across multiple locations and business units,” Universal spokesman Tom Schroder stated Tuesday evening.

… “We are working to structure and strengthen our business for the future in anticipation of the tourism industry taking time to fully recover. In that regard, we have already taken important steps such as adjusting budgets and implementing salary reductions and furloughs,” Schroder said.

“This decision was not made lightly, but was necessary to prepare us for the future,” he said.

Why it’s important: Industry analysts are warning that job and salary cuts will continue through the end of the year as organizations across industries struggle to adjust their business models to stay afloat. If you’re communicating this tough news, make sure you’re talking with employees well before the announcement hits headlines.


RESEARCH SNAPSHOT  

The COVID-19 crisis has drastically changed the landscape for communicators and PR pros. More than ever before, communicators must gain key skill sets and employ strategic communications and media relations strategies to boost their organizations’ coverage, reputation and overall brand.

Learn what the 315 communicators we surveyed say about what parts of the PR function are more important than ever, how to adjust for COVID-19, and more with our free report revealing insights that can help you persevere during this uncertain time.

Download your copy of the report here.


WHAT YOU SAID

We asked if you’re starting to adopt social justice initiatives outside of your corporate social responsibility campaigns and community efforts, and nearly 29% of you said adding those initaitives is a current focus. Roughly 29% are considering adopting social justice campaigns:


SOUNDING BOARD 

How are you checking in with your employees or keeping in touch with colleagues, especially during COVID-19 and as Black Lives Matter protests continue?

Weigh in on how you’re addressing concerns with your workforce and share your strategies on Twitter under the hashtag #DailyScoop.

 

COMMENT

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